Wikimedia CEE Meeting 2019/Programme/Submissions/Wikipedia in Strongly Polarised Societies. New Challenges

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Title of the submission
Type of submission (lecture, panel, workshop, lightning talk, roundtable, poster)
  • lecture with discussion
Author(s) of the submission

Tomasz Raburski


Tomasz Raburski


Wikimedia Poland

  • Community Engagement, Media Outreach
Abstract (up to 100 words)

The growing polarisation of political scene (the division into two, strongly antagonistic camps) is a growing concern in many societies. Because the conflicts between those two camps seems to spill over to all social areas, they also pose a challenge to Wikipedia communities.

The presentation will be based on the case of the conflict concerning the judicial reform in Poland (2015-now) and how this conflict affected Wikipedia community. One of the biggest problems is the politization of every aspect of public sphere and its colonization by party-politics. In consequence, Wikipedia is not seen as a common ground, where editors with diversified political views may meet, but as an instrument belonging to "us" or "them". All actions and edits are seen as backed by political interests. Thus, there is a growing problem of "partisan new editors" - editors who start editing to change the political balance of community, or to "take over" some articles. This biased and simplified image of Wikipedia is presented in partisan media, exacerbating the crisis.

How will this session be beneficial for the communities in the region of Central and Eastern Europe?

The polarization of political takes place in many countries of Europe. We need to recognize the challenges it brings and adapt to a changing social and political environment.

Special requirements


Slides or further information

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  • We have this problem when society is dividing. It is not all about parted politics. The Brexit is not political parties, it has cultural backgrounds. The new media, especially social media, makes political different, Many people become active and militant for their interest, they are discussing and fighting over their interests. Those conflicts came to Wikipedia too.
  • Wikipedia as a forum VS Wikipedia as an actor
  • Wikipedia is not an actor who is fighting against someone. Wikipedia is a place where people share their knowledge.
  • The most dangerous situation comes in some countries where Wikipedia as an actor with the government on the other side.
  • Since 2015 we had political crises in Poland. It led to mass protests, international reactions, and conflict over appointing judges to Constitutional Tribunal. there was a creation of opinion that judgments are above the law, unelected with many privileges and running the government.
  • Anti-communism on Wikipedia.
  • A Wikipedia a judge, a censor - In the middle of anti judges comparing, one editor was accused to be against the government and this man was publicly shamed.
  • There are several dangers and solutions:
    • Freezing effect for public employees - Keeping a low profile will protect you
    • Seeing Wikipedia as a single agent -
    • Supporting the image od a platform or forum and supporting political diversity
    • Anti NGO legislation - Finding local, diversified sources of income. Local donations to WMF, that are coming back as grants, should be treated as local, not foreign. * Those local chapters will be treated as a foreign chapter.
  • Q: I think this is part of an also discuss on Wikipedia. Discuss is becoming more and more on Facebook and Twitter, I would like to say that discussion on Wikipedia should be based on analytics and facts.
    • A: Those discussions are not visible beyond Wikipedia. Wikipedia is some kind of finished thing. Maybe we should move the discussion.
  • Q: I realized that you don't have to block Wikipedia from the country, you just have to scare them enough to stop writing.